Thursday, October 31, 2013
What are you giving out this year?
As of now, I have some Charms Candy Corn Lollipops, Jolly Rancher Caramel Apple Pops, Airheads (the kids in this neighborhood really love them) and Payday Bars. I wanted another chocolate item and may still pick that up, probably the Unreal Peanut Butter Cups again, like last year. I try to balance the offerings so that there’s something gluten free, something nut free and something with chocolate and hopefully nothing that has slave chocolate in it.
The best news? After Halloween candy sales start tomorrow ...
UPDATE: I did go shopping at lunch today at Whole Foods and found individually wrapped Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups (on sale, 2 packages for $5.00) and Endangered Species Milk Chocolate Bug Bites (same sale price). CVS has stopped carrying the UNREAL brand. So it’s a chocolatey and hopefully ethically sourced Halloween.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Sometime about a year ago I picked up some Root Beer Puffs, which were like buttermints but flavored like the soda. A few weeks later I got a note from a company called Red Bird Brand that makes candy puffs in a huge variety of flavors. It took me quite a while to find them, but I did pick up Soft Assorted Puffs at the 99 Cent Only Store that includes 15 different flavors. (Though perhaps not always in the same bag.)
The flavor variety is, well, extraordinary: Peppermint, Cherry, Lemon, Green Apple, Wintergreen, Strawberry, Orange, Grape, Peach, Blueberry, Butterscotch, Watermelon, Cream Penny, Cotton Candy, Passion Fruit. There’s a menu guide on the back that shows the key for the combination of colors and stripes. There are about 25 candies in the bag, but the flavors were not distributed evenly.
One of the differences between this style of Puffs and the traditional Buttermint of After Dinner Mint is the size. These are quite large, at about 1 inch across and all of them are individually wrapped. (No more candy dish with the stuck together.)
Cherry was bold and easy to spot. It’s a flavor that’s both heavily scented and with a light tartness to it. It was smooth and had a good melt, but overall, it’s not usually my favorite though at least this didn’t have a lot of red coloring in it.
The flavors not in my bag: Peppermint, Cotton Candy, Passion Fruit and Orange.
For the most part I didn’t like the fruity flavors. The others like butterscotch and wintergreen were more to my liking, even the unflavored Cream Penny were pleasant.
The puffs themselves are quite nice, I liked them more than the variety package. There’s a floral, sort of honey note to them. But they’re also quite cinnamony. I wouldn’t call them hot though, it was a nice heat but they never approached anything like the fire of an Atomic Fireball.
The cinnamon smell is strong, even when they’re in the package, so I had to keep them separated from other candies.
The package for the Assorted Puffs said it was Gluten Free, they’re also Kosher Pareve and appear to be vegan ingredients.
It was strange that I didn’t get the classic Peppermint in the Assorted mix, which is what Red Bird Brand is known for. Overall, the texture was good, they softened up nicely. The package mentions that they’re rather hard when they’re first made, but if you prefer a softer puff, to open the package and wait ... it was true. After a couple of months, mine reached the melt in your mouth texture that I was expecting.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Their products come from numerous suppliers and in a way remind me of the now discontinued Choxie line from Target. The line includes cookies and trail mixes, but has an exceptionally strong presence in the candy aisle, especially in the larger Walgreen’s stores. They have large chocolate bars featuring Belgian chocolate (like Dark Chocolate, Pear & Almond), individually wrapped and bagged chocolate pieces (like Red Velvet Caramels) and gable boxes of caramels and of course this offering: Good & Delish Milk Chocolate Cornflake Clusters.
The package was on sale for $2.99 for 5 ounces, which seemed pretty fair to me since it was real chocolate. Some of the other products are made in Belgium, but this one is made in the United States.
Each piece is about a third of an ounce and 1.25 to 1.5 inches in diameter. They’re just plops of milk chocolate mixed with corn flakes. They reminded me of the Harry London Mint Cookie Joys that were minted milk chocolate mixed with chocolate cookie bits. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if these were made by Harry London under the Walgreen’s house brand.
The milk chocolate is sweet but quite creamy and sets off the crunchy, malty and slightly salty corn flakes very well. I found them a little on the sweet side at first, but I enjoyed the density of the corn flakes. The crunch made them feel more like a snack, but the sweetness made me set a limit of three in a sitting, otherwise it was just too overwhelming.
My go to treat for corn flakes and chocolate has always been the Ritter Sport Knusperflakes, which is about $2 to $2.50 per 3.5 ounce bar, which is still a better deal. I bought one just for comparison, and found the corn flakes a bit lighter but less malty. But I did like the portioning of the Good & Delish and the fact that a house brand is doing something that the big brands aren’t. I want to explore more of their unique offerings in the future.
Friday, October 25, 2013
There are often movie tie ins with candy, but they are most often just a packaging change. For the second of The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, Vosges Chocolate has released an interesting set of products themed with the movies characters and settings.
The Capitol Truffle Collection - $225.00
A ritual of degustation, this truffle collection is curated to guide your palate through opulence and ritual. The 18 different truffles in sets of two are an exploration of shape, texture, color and flavor. Rosemary with a touch of pink peppercorn is encased in pure, white chocolate. Coconut and banana are combined with dark chocolate and rolled in coconut charcoal ash. Candied walnuts and milk chocolate are thick and chunky, rolled in cocoa powder– to name a few…
Underneath the colorful truffles, 16 compartments await, each cradling a treasure to forward the degustation. Small vials of crushed violet petals, pearl dust, gold leaf and matcha tea are accompanied by detailed mixology instructions to create decadent libations. Trinkets and objects of desire dictate social rules and traditions.
The Capitol Truffle Collection includes: 36 truffles, accoutrements, and a menu of etiquette and recipes to serve an extravagant 18 course chocolate tasting
As a point of reference, a 32 piece truffle collection is $75.00. I don’t know what these other menus and recipes and accoutrements add to this, but it appears that it nearly triples the price. There is no smaller version of this either ... you just have to be willing to plop down the full $225 to get Catching Fire truffles.
The Hunger Games Katniss Chocolate Bar
Quiet your mind and engage each of your senses in preparation for this unique, cinematic chocolate experience. Breathe in the deep, smoky aroma of the bar before taking a bite. Let the rich milk chocolate melt on your palate, and savor the subtle, salty crunch of hickory smoked bacon accented by sweet, crisp apples.
Katniss chocolate bar parfum includes: apples pierced uncured hickory smoked bacon + alderwood smoked sea salt + 44% cacao milk chocolate.(Retail $7.50)
Contains: milk, soy, gluten free (not all the bars are). Manufactured in a facility that handles tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, milk, wheat and soy.
I have to say, these are not flavors I would have quite picked out to represent Katniss ... but she’s definitely an unconventional girl. So an unconventional bunch of flavors would suit her. I have to say that it seems a bit fussy for her though.
The Hunger Games President Snow Chocolate Bar
Breathe in the aromatic tartness of the orange and chocolate before taking your first bite. Allow the chocolate to melt in your mouth, while the release of the bittersweet citrus caramel punctuated by nips of blistering pepper permeates your palate.
President Snow chocolate bar parfum contains: Blood orange & tellicherry peppercorns caramel + 72% cacao dark chocolate
Again, I’m not an expert on The Hunger Games at all, but if I understand this bar, it’s supposed to emulate the damaged feeling of the President’s mouth since he poisoned his political opponents?
The Hunger Games Effie Chocolate Bar
Breathe in the fragrant aroma of sweet strawberries before taking your first bite. Allow the bittersweet chocolate to melt on your palate, and savor the bar’s fruity bouquet and the pleasing crunch of candied French violet flowers.
Effie chocolate bar parfum includes: dried strawberries + candied violet flowers + 62% cacao dark chocolate
This bar actually seemed quite suitable for the character. Some light touches of excess but an undercurrent of seriousness with the dark chocolate.
This is the most interesting of the bunch of the bars, I actually saw these at Walgreen’s priced at $3.99, though they’re $4.99 on the Vosges website. You can get the full “book” of bars shown above or buy the bars individually. Each is themed for a different district. The inclusions and flavor profiles are ... well, quite a stretch.
Wild Ophelia Bars - retail $3.99
You may now commence your rants or analyses of how this licensing seems more like District 1 partnering/exploiting the kids than anything faithful to Katniss and her friends.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
While on vacation last month I picked up some candies from the bulk bin at a candy shop. They were individually wrapped compressed dextrose Candy Rings. There was no label on the bin and nothing on the wrapper, so I can’t be sure of the brand.
I found three flavors: Cherry, Lemon and Lime.
They’re 1.33 inches wide and 1.6 inches tall. They’re flat, about a quarter of an inch thick. There’s a little gem design on the crest of the ring, two circles with a diamond shape in the center. It’s a clever bit of design, they’re stamped out like giant pills instead of being molded like most hard candies.
As adornment they’re not very comfortable. The rings are sized for small fingers, so they fit on my pinky and barely on my ring finger. The bands are chunky. With a file I suppose I could have made the ring hole bigger for my middle finger, as I think that would work best given the size of the ring. The design is cute, and the pieces are sizable.
I know that there have been a few makers of a few different kinds of compressed dextrose candy rings over the years. The version I got as a kid, I recall, was much chalkier and easier to bite than this version. They’re quite dense, like eating a piece of fired porcelain instead of some school chalk.
The flavors are mild, more sweet than tart, more perfume in most cases than flavor. The compressed dextrose they’re made from is less sweet than sucrose, but also lacks the full buoyant mouthfeel of sugar. Cherry is lightly tangy with an awful lot of jammy florals and a hint of cough syrup. Lemon was quite bland with even less tang than the cherry.
I prefer my SweeTart type candies a bit more chalky. I like less density, a little more air in them so that they can be crunched. I also prefer more flavor ... and maybe some other flavors. But for a cheap little wearable treat, these were passable. I’m glad they’re still around.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.